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Hengistbury Head

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Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve is a very popular place for both locals and visitors to spend their leisure time. It is a headland that juts into the English Channel. Owned and managed by Bournemouth Council the heathland forms part of Dorset Heaths. It has varied wildlife and geology and is protected as a site of Special Scientific Interest.

Its physical location is at the end of the Southbourne section of Bournemouth beach, and on the other side of the head lies the entrance to Christchurch River.


Hengistbury has evidence of human activity back as far as the Stone Age (10,500 BC). Evidence of an open settlement on the hill in the middle of the headland. During the Medieval Period Alfred the Great rebuilt the harbour as a defence against raiders, and later built a town now called Christchurch.

Things To Do There:

Great for walking and hiking. There is ample car parking (charges apply) at the headland and walkers may stay on the level tarmac road leading all the way to the headland beach (or the Spit as it is known), the more adventurous may decide to trek up the path to the top of the head. There is plenty of landscape to enjoy once at the top with views all the way around Bournemouth harbour.

Popular with kite flying enthusiasts - being a headland the wind tends to be favourable a lot of the time.

Enjoying the beach - plenty of space and only a short walk from the car park. Alternatively a land train runs frequently from the car park cafe area and many travel down to the headland beach which has good sand and views East towards Highcliffe and the Isle Of Wight.

Eating facilities are good. There is the Hiker Cafe (formerly the Hungry Hiker) right near the car park and a further restaurant at the head, the Beach House Cafe, which is extremely popular at weekends (book ahead!).

Also a small shop sells basic sweets, drinks etc which supports all of the beach hut dwellers. A short ferry ride and there is a pub in Mudeford Quay.

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